Our houses aren’t the only things that get cluttered–our minds do too! Many of us are emotional hoarders, and have so many feelings stacked up in inside that we can barely move around anymore. If that sounds familiar, then it may be time for some inner housekeeping.
For those of us who are especially emotional, it’s kind of like showing up at home with a new piece of furniture every single day. If we don’t make room, we’re eventually going to run out of space, and it’s going to get uncomfortable. The more intensely we experience our emotions, the more often we’ll need to clean house. Now I can go several weeks sometimes without going through this process, but sometimes I have to do it daily. It just depends on how I’m doing, and what’s going on in my life. You’ll have to determine what works for you, but doing it occasionally is better than not doing it at all.
Before I outline the steps I use to freshen up my headspace, there are a couple of helpful things to keep in mind. First of all, consider that just because an emotion feels bad, doesn’t make it bad. Pain, fear, anger and sadness have been guideposts leading the way to my biggest transformations, and most powerful healing! All emotions have value. Second of all, please remember that our emotions cannot hurt us. There have been times I have felt so sad I was sure it would kill me…but it didn’t. So, remember that while our emotions are real, in the sense that there are actual changes happening in our brains, they’re not going to hurt us unless we let them.
Special Note: If this gets to be too much, and you’re having thoughts about hurting yourself, then please seek professional treatment immediately. It’s not worth risking your life waiting to get help in those cases. If you don’t know where to start call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are considering self-harming, but not suicide, there are resources for you as well.
Follow these 10 steps as many times as you need to, and watch your world open up. It may not happen overnight (although it can), but if you practice inner clearing you will feel lighter, freer, and learn a lot about yourself in the process. After all, knowledge is power, and knowing ourselves does empower us!
1. Set up Support – If you’ve never done this before, chances are you’re going to find some things that you hid away a long time ago…and chances are you hid them because they were painful to look at. Uncovering them is a good thing in the long run, because those feelings are either going to keep sitting there collecting dust, and causing problems, or get pulled up into the light and cleared away. Clearing them is always better, but it’s not always pleasant, so having someone who knows what you’re up to, and is willing to lend an ear, will make a big difference. This can be your therapist, but it could also be a close friend or family member. Just have someone to call on if it gets to be too much for you.
2. Give Yourself Time – Put your phone on airplane mode, set a timer for at least 30 minutes, and make sure you will not be disturbed. If you have an hour or more, great. Even if you have all day, I still recommend putting a time limit on the session, because when we’re venturing into some dark corners, it helps to know there’s an end to it. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a few minutes after the timer goes off to wrap things up, so make sure you give yourself some cushion. If you’re concerned about taking time away from your significant other/spouse or kids, please remember that helping yourself helps them. It’s better for everyone to have a happier partner and happier parent!
3. Give Yourself Permission to Have an Intense Experience – It’s okay if you cry your eyes out. It’s okay if you shake with fear. It’s okay if you beat the crap out of a pillow. That’s why you set aside some time where you won’t be disturbed–so that you can go clear out what you need to clear out to get to a lighter, freer place! Don’t try to reign it in–you can do that when the timer goes off. Until then, let it out. Really, it’s okay.
4. Meditate – Meditation allows you to get present, which is an essential part of this process. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to sit quietly and observe your thoughts. Don’t try to change them, just let them come, and watch what comes up. If you start to feel really sad/angry/happy/afraid/amused…just go with it! Get REALLY angry. Get REALLY sad. Laugh hysterically. Don’t try to fight with what’s there, just let it be there. If it helps you to visualize, picture an actual room filled with clutter. What do you see? Dig around, and look closely at what’s there. Those visual cues can give you access into your subconscious, and open a portal for healing old wounds. (I will create a guided meditation video for this soon, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested!)
5. Write it Out – After you’ve meditated for a few minutes (I recommend at least 5 minutes out of your 30 minute session), pick up a pen and paper and start writing about what you saw. Using a pen and paper is preferable to a computer/tablet/phone simply because our gadgets are more distracting. Whatever thoughts came up for you in your meditation, write them down. Don’t try to censor it. If you’re worried about someone finding it, you can rip it up later–what’s important is that you just say whatever there is to be said. It’s also important not to change or “fix” your thoughts before you write them down. It doesn’t matter if you are writing something you think is horrible. The paper isn’t judging you! This is where the clearing really happens. We’re taking whatever was in our heads, and dumping it out onto the paper. Once it’s outside, we don’t need to keep it in our head anymore.
6. Check in With Yourself – Once you feel that you’ve written all there is to write, or you come to a natural stopping place, pause for a moment and check in with yourself. Do you feel better? Do you feel worse? Are you numb? Are you confused? Any of those experiences are valid, and perfectly acceptable. There’s not a “right” way to feel. That being said, if you feel better, this may be a good time to complete the process for the day. If you feel worse, or feel like you’re bumping up against something, and you have more time left, repeat steps 4 & 5 as many times as you can before your timer goes off.
7. Create a Closing Ritual – I’s vital to bring closure to this process, so that you can move on with your day. There isn’t one correct way to do this, so see what calls to you. You can say a prayer, asking your higher power to hold everything you cleared for safe keeping. You can throw the paper away. You can rip it up. You can make it into art. You can put it in a special notebook. You can even burn it! There are a lot of options, so choose something that has significance for you, and lets you know your process is done for the day. Feel free to experiment with it. You don’t have to feel 100% cleared out yet, but you do need to demarcate a clear ending to your session.
8. Thank Yourself for the Experience – You’ve just done yourself a huge service! Acknowledge yourself for going through your inner junk, and doing what many people aren’t willing to do. It’s no small task.
9. Check in With Your Support Person – You may just want to send them a text letting them know how it went, or you may want to call and have a long conversation. The length of the check in is up to you, but it’s a good idea to do this at least the first few times, especially if you’re up against some serious emotions, or if you have been through trauma. I still call my mom after I have an intense clearing session, even though I don’t “need” to. It never hurts to include the people you love on your journey, and sometimes sharing what you got out of it helps them too.
10. Schedule Your Next Session (Optional) – If it helps you to do this regularly, or if you feel like you still have some clearing to do, take out your calendar and schedule your next session. Many of us get busy, and wait until it becomes a problem before we remember to do it again. If you tend to fall into that category, go ahead and get it on the books!
If you don’t feel clear yet, don’t worry! It took many sessions for me to feel relief at the beginning. I had a lot of old stuff stored in there! Just keep coming back to it. It will help you release so much, and there’s a lot of freedom in that. There’s nothing you can’t clear with time and practice, so keep practicing.
I will continue to create supplemental materials for this, because it’s such a big part of my mental health routine. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the meantime!
All photos by Daryl Henderson.